Stranger in a strange land
This album is (or was) facing a problem. Given that this is a Dave Willey’s album and that luminaries such as Hugh Hopper, Elaine di Falco, Deborah Perry and Mike Johnson play on it, expectations of some people were to hear an album of complex or otherworldly sounding avant-rock (or the so-called RIO). Well, if those are your expectations, either abandon those at the door or go look for another album of that ilk. This beautiful album is a rather calm and relaxed collection of 12 songs, composed by, as the title suggests, Dave Willey and friends. You will hear resemblances to these fine musician’s other work in Hamster Theatre, Thinking Plague et al. but those are hints, much like one tastes hints of fruit while tasting wine.
Indeed, like a good wine, this album takes time to “open” and bloom, revealing its flavours slowly and gradually, requiring recurring tastings. It is a mostly minimalist and restrained album, but one that holds in its “guts” great strength and powerful emotions. As much as it is different from what you usually hear from this bunch of musicians, it is as remarkable and potent in its emotional impact. What it “lacks” in its musical complexity compared to Hamster Theatre and Thinking Plague, it more than makes up for in beauty, elegance and charm.
The intimacy of the music matches very well how personal the lyrics are, giving the songs that timid ambiance and tenderness that doesn’t overshadow the lyrics. The person responsible for the lyrics is Dale Willey, Dave’s father, now deceased. These poems were taken from the book “The Tin Box Papers and Other Poems”.
The music suits the lyrics very well, whether its simplistic and beautiful, slightly erratic and faster, or eerie and melancholic (enhanced by the wonderful vocals of Elaine di Falco and Deborah Perry).
If subtlety and otherworldliness are attributes you’d like to experience in music, intimacy and calmness, beauty and eeriness, immerse yourself in the currents of the 12 songs by Dave Willey and his friends.